I’ve a few observations regarding the Nation story, “Why moving US Africa command to Africa will not solve security issues” that offer an alternate viewpoint.
First, the idea of Africom being based in Nigeria may not be bad. American military bases in Southeast Asia (South Korea and Japan) and post-Nazi Germany were transformative. In Japan, imposed democracy by the dictates of General MacArthur laid the basis for the rapid economic miracle established there.
Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru was visionary in accommodating US military support and devoting the resulting national resources to reconstruction and development. In addition, the US military in S. E. Asia has had a balancing effect for the smaller nations of Asia from the domination of Russia, China and India. The presence of the US military, on invitation, in these smaller nations has led to a balance of power in the region and avoided a regional arms race and war.
The strategic positioning of American troops made the resurgence of German military conquest moot. It placated centuries-old rivals. It entrenched the Nato alliance and (like in S. E. Asia) provided a check to Communist expansion in Western Europe. This covered a major security headache and allowed the leaders to focus more resources on rebuilding Western Europe and increasing economic growth.
Moving the US command to Africa will solve security issues in many areas. But deployment and use of military power will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis as there are limits to the application of American power.
Nigeria is unable to deal with the threat of militant Islamist groups like Boko Haram in the northeast and vigilantes in the southeast like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), which disrupt its petro-economy or the kidnappings for hefty ransoms. Africom can fix this.
While Africom appears to be a dent in Africa’s pride to provide the public good of security to its people, the post-colonial reality is that most countries on the continent cannot regulate their borders and need help.
Africom provides this support at the expense of US taxpayers and doesn’t pose an extra burden on the local taxpayer. It provides the opportunity for African countries to use their resources to develop their nations without the concern for large militaries that can become politically deleterious.
There can be significant benefits that Professor Kester Onor did not assess. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Africom centred in Nigeria can have significant benefits for the country and the West African region. What’s most important is defining the extent of their involvement in the countries, ensuring that Africom acts as a dessert rather than the main course in providing for the security of African states and the continent.
Prof David Monda, New York, USA